The indefatigable researchers of the Lords Library have updated the information they gave me earlier in the year on the age profile of Peers.
Excluding those that have taken “leave of absence” or are disqualified there are now only two Members under 40 (both of them are 39) and there are 12 over the age of 90 still eligible to participate. The most popular age group for the whole active House is now between 70 and 79, although the Liberal Democrats and Bishops (who automatically retire at 70) bring the figure down to 60-69.
The Library have reported some other figures. Again for the whole active House 74.4% are male, 25.6% female, but there are some small but significant variations in the different groups: Conservatives 76.9%/23.1%, Labour 68.6%/31.4% , Liberal Democrat 64.8%/35.2% and Crossbench 78.0%/22.0%. Despite all the recent efforts to make the House more representative of the nation at large – and the resulting total active population increase to 815 – it doesn’t look much different. And if it was possible to tie down exactly where they all come from I suspect that London and the South East would still be wildly over-represented at the expense of more remote parts of the UK.
Despite the much vaunted benefits of appointment for ensuring a balanced membership, the system is manifestly failing. The only way to make the Lords more representative in every sense is to return to the question of elections. The 2012 Lords Reform Bill, which gained a huge Second Reading majority in the Commons, remains the best place to start. After all, had it been enacted there would by now there would be 1/3 of the planned elected “Senators” (or whatever they ended up being called) sent to the red benches by voters in every corner of the country.